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Visual Basic (Classic) FAQ


a Thousand ways to transfer data between forms by ThatRickGuy
Posted: 24 Mar 05

There are tons of ways to pass data from one form to another, I'm going to give a few samples here that will hopefully answer some questions.

One thing to get a good handle on is Scope and Access. On any class you can declare a variable as Private, Protected, or Public (There is also Friend, but we won't go into it here).
Things declared Private are only available in that class.
Things declared Protected are only available in that class, or classes that inherit that class.
Things declared Public are available from anywheres.

Now that we know the three primary access types, you should be able to see that if you want to pass data from one object to another, there must be a Public sub, function, property, or variable. With out some sort of public access, there is no way to pass the value.

Another important issue that many VB6 coders have problems with (specificly w/ forms) is the difference between a Class and an Instantiation. I would recommend reading this FAQ: http://www.tek-tips.com/faqs.cfm?fid=5611 if you are not familiar with the difference.

For these examples lets assume we have 2 form classes.  These classes will be called Form1 and Form2. It is important to not confuse your Objects with your Classes. So when we have instantiations of these to forms I will call them frmSender and frmReceiver. We will also assum the Form1 has a textbox called "txtSend" and Form2 has a text box called "txtReceive"

Option 1: Passing data to a method
on the Form2 class we will add a sub that will accept a string value and assign it to Form2.txtReceive. We declare it as Public so that other objects can access it.


Public Sub SetReceive(Value as String)
  txtReceive.text = Value
End Sub

In the Form1 class, we can now instantiate a Form2 object, and send a value to it. We declare it as Private because nothing outside of this class needs to call this function. We use ShowDialog so that the code in this class will wait until frmReceiver closes to continue.


Private Sub OpenForm2
  dim frmReceiver as new Form2
End Sub

Option 2: Passing data to a Property
In some situations, you may need to set a value, and get it back. An easy way to do this is with Public Properties.

We can make the txtReceive text box's text property accessable through a public property like this on the class Form2:


Private Property ReceiveText() As String
    Return txtReceive.Text
  End Get
  Set(ByVal Value As String)
    txtReceive.Text = Value
  End Set
End Property

Now in the class Form1 we can access the ReceiveText property from Form2 any place that we have an instantiation of Form2. This type of access would by more useful when you have both forms open at the same time in a non-dialog manor. This would be likely to occur in a MDI environment.

Option 3: Passing data to a specific control
This is probrably the cheapest, fastest, not quite as elegant way to move data. In the code of the Form2 class there is a region called Windows Form Designer Generated Code.

If you open that up, you'll see a few things, first, the Constructor which is called "Public Sub New()" This sub is fired when you instantiate the class (ie: dim frmReceiver as New Form2)

Next is the Destructor, which is called "Protected Overloads Overrides Sub Dispose". This sub is fired when an object is destroyed or goes out of Scope. (ie: frmReceiver.Close or frmReceiver = Nothing)

Next up you'll see a declaration, and then the block we are looking for. You'll know you're in the right area when you see a Microsoft warning:


    'NOTE: The following procedure is required by the Windows Form Designer
    'It can be modified using the Windows Form Designer.  
    'Do not modify it using the code editor.
Once you see that, look for this:
Friend WithEvents txtReceive As System.Windows.Forms.TextBox

All we need to do is change that Friend to Public and we can now access the txtReceive object from anywheres we have and instance of the class. Notice that this will expose the control itself, not just the text property.

Option 4: Passing data to the constructor
Dig back into that Windows Form Designer Generated Code in Form2 again. This time, goto the Public Sub New(). We can add a parameter to the constructor and assign the text here:


Public Sub New(ReceiveValue as string)

  'This call is required by the Windows Form Designer.

  'Add any initialization after the InitializeComponent() call
  txtReceive.Text = ReceiveValue
End Sub

Then when we instantiate frmReceiver from Form1 we do this:


Private Sub OpenForm2
  dim frmReceiver as new Form2(txtSend.text)
End Sub

Option 5: Passing data and waiting for a return value
This is covered in my other passing data FAQ here: http://www.tek-tips.com/faqs.cfm?fid=5671

Option 6: Passing a form to a process
This is a style that I have abused quite a bit when working with processes. A lot of our work here is process based, and while the process is working, I want to update the form with a process or progress bar, or update a status bar, etc.

For this sample, we will have Form1, and we will have Process1. Process1 will be instantiated to pcsDoThing.

In Process1 we add a constructor. Since this class isn't a GUI, it doesn have a windows generated block or a consturctor, so we'll make our own:


private m_frmOwner as Form

Public Sub New(byref frmOwner as Form)
  m_frmOwner = frmOwner
End Sub
We can use the private variable m_frmOwner to track the form that was passed, in through out the class now! for example:


Public Sub DoProcess()
  dim i as integer
  for i = 0 to 100000
    'do something
    m_frmOwner.text = "Item " & i & " of 100000"
  next i
End Sub

In Form1 we could call it like this:


Private Sub StartProcess
  dim pcsDoThing as New Process1(Me)
End Sub

This is just a small sample of the ways to pass data from one form or object to another. The two main things you need are an instance of the object, and access to a member that exposes the object or property that you need. Hope it helps, if you have questions, post them on the forums, I'll expand the FAQ to cover more issues, or more details on these issues as questions arise.


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